Ok… Maybe not exactly like Isaiah. But this couple did say, “Here (we) are, send (us)!” (Isaiah 6:8b, Paraphrased).
Years ago I heard a minister say he knew many who moved to other cities for career advancement, but none had ever moved to expressly join a local congregation. As I thought about 20 years of pastoring, the same was true for me… until recently.
A young man I know and his wife (Todd & Lindsay Humphries) have recently moved from Alabama to Oregon… to be a part of a church plant. Not as a minister, but members of a congregation (Remedy City Church). They joined RCC with fourteen other couples meeting in the pastor’s home. Todd and Lindsay have been married 13 years and have two children.
Portland, Oregon is not Birmingham, Alabama. There is 1 Southern Baptist Church for every 28,000 residents in Portland. Only 11% of the 2.8 million population are evangelical Christians. It is the most religiously unidentified city in the nation. A move from Sweet Home Alabama to Portland is a major cultural transition for them and their children. They have left the comfort of family, home, friends, career, and safety to spread the Gospel in a spiritually dark part of the United States.
I asked Todd and Lindsay about their journey to Portland and here’s what I found out.
Todd & Lindsay both had strong Christian families growing up that took them to church faithfully. Both attest to having ministers who encouraged them in their faith. They both admit to “playing church” in college. After getting married, a 2010 a mission trip whetted their appetite to grow in Christ. The Holy Spirit used Paul and Jen Batson to encourage their growth which steadily continued for several years. In Todd & Lindsay’s mind that meant foster care, mission trips, or starting a local small group. But God’s providence was for something else.
In August of 2015 Todd got a call from a company in Portland that was a perfect fit for him. But God put in the couple’s mind something more. They contacted NAMB about a mission presence in Portland. They were put in contact with leaders in the area who they asked, “Is there a need for a guy with a full time job to move his family there to help with a church plant?” The answer was YES!
I asked Todd & Lindsay what their role would be in the congregation. This is their answer…
It’s much different than what we think of in the Bible Belt. (It is) what Christ setup the church to be… a community of His followers is what the church is here. There is no building, no kids programs, no organized “service” projects. The community we are a part of is about 15 families that meet in the pastor’s home. We are starting monthly services in an elementary school this month. So our role is investing into the lives of our community of believers… saying yes to meet the needs before we are asked. It is also investing in the lives of those around us, building relationships and, as the Holy Spirit leads, share the Gospel. It is not showing up on Sunday morning service, sign-up to do some service project, and go about our normal life the rest of the time. It’s building community daily, hourly. (Me: What more can be said?!)
Their move has not been without struggle. But they both say without hesitation they were called by God to do what they are doing. Not only that, they have great excitement and joy.
Now. Why will so many in our congregations be blessed by their story… and yet stay in comfortable pews? Why will many affirm them but not be available to do the same? Shouldn’t they be the norm rather than the exception?
God bless the Humphries family! God bless Remedy City Church! God bless Portland!
May we all understand, as Todd & Lindsay did, Romans 10:14-15… “How are they to call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’”